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from Tales from the Trail:

Washington Extra – Waiting for fireworks

Will we see fireworks in the debt talks next week?

So far the White House and lawmakers have been cranky about the state of negotiations, but no one has actually drawn a firm line in the sand – still hoping for a compromise.

Senators and staff can't be happy about having their Fourth of July recess cancelled next week over debt talks, setting up a perfect environment for tempers to flare.

And no matter how much critics try to pooh-pooh the deadline for avoiding default, Treasury is sticking with Aug. 2 as the drop-debt date.

White House economic officials are expected to attend meetings on Capitol Hill next week. President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden have been invited but it's unclear whether they will venture over to that end of Pennsylvania Avenue.

from Tales from the Trail:

Washington Extra – Not enough

The word is not enough. That was the message from the United States to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad who pledged reforms in a speech at Damascus University.

"What's important now is action, not words," State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told reporters.

from Oddly Enough Blog:

What could be insaner than to smoke like Speaker Boehner?

Quick quiz: Speaker of the House John Boehner is puffing on a cigarette...

a) in his own back yard.

b) in Ohio or someplace like that.

c) in an airplane lavatory after invoking his Congressional Smoke Detector Disabling Privileges.

d) at a White House picnic.

You're not going to believe this, but he is indeed at a White House family picnic, complete with foot-long hot dogs, a pie-throwing contest, and impressionable children.

from Photographers' Blog:

From Downing St. to the White House… and back

It’s cold, it’s very dark and oh…. of course it’s raining. I have no idea if or when I will actually see the Prime Minister after standing here for hours.

That’s my enduring memory from 10 years (1989-1999) of covering Downing St. as a photographer for Reuters. I still tell people that Downing St. is the coldest place on Earth, no matter what month it may be!

from Tales from the Trail:

Un-Common culture war over rapper’s visit to White House

The White House is standing by its rapper.

Lonnie Rashid Lynn Jr., who raps under the name Common, will appear Wednesday night as scheduled at a celebration of American poetry and prose at the White House, despite criticism from Sarah Palin and other conservative political figures about  some of his lines, including a song praising a man convicted for killing a police officer and this 2007 rhyme about former Republican President George W. Bush: "Burn a Bush 'cause for peace he no push no button/Killing over oil and grease/no weapons of destruction."

The former Alaska governor and Republican vice presidential candidate linked to an article on the conservative "Daily Caller" website and tweeted "Oh lovely, White House..."

from Tales from the Trail:

Looking to cash in on bin Laden bounty? Forget about it

Now that Osama bin Laden is dead, it doesn't look like anyone will be claiming the multimillion-dollar bounty the U.S. government put on his head.

White House spokesman Jay Carney signaled that no one was likely to receive the $25 million reward, which the Secretary of State had discretion to double, because it was U.S. intelligence work rather than a tipster that led to the deadly raid on the al Qaeda chief's compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, a week ago.

from Tales from the Trail:

“Minutes passed like days” for U.S. officials watching bin Laden op

It took almost a decade for the United States to find al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. But when it came to the final act, time went into slow motion  for U.S. officials holding their breath and hoping the raid in Pakistan would go off without a hitch.

White House counterterrorism official John Brennan, a former CIA officer who has been after bin Laden for 15 years, described the scene in the White House Situation Room where President Barack Obama and other national security officials gathered to monitor the U.S. operation in real-time.

from Tales from the Trail:

McCain says Trump having fun, Republicans have serious candidates for 2012

Republican Senator John McCain, who lost to Barack Obama in the 2008 presidential election, made clear that he doesn't see Donald Trump as a serious candidate for 2012.

"I think Mr. Trump is having a lot of fun and it's pretty clear he enjoys the limelight.  We have very serious candidates.  And I think that, if Mr. Trump wants to run, he's welcome to run," McCain said on CBS' "Face the Nation."

from Tales from the Trail:

Washington Extra – Changing hats

The national security musical chairs was made official today by President Barack Obama.

On stage was a daisy-chain of Washington insiders who have worn many hats over the years and criss-crossed different administrations. They all report to Commander-in-Chief Obama, who by comparison appeared a relative newcomer.

from Tales from the Trail:

Obama has ‘better stuff’ to do than birth certificate ‘sideshows’

President Barack Obama tried to put the kibosh on birther speculation by releasing his Hawaiian birth certificate and calling questions about the authenticity of the document a distraction from bigger issues by "sideshows and carnival barkers."

"We do not have time for this kind of silliness," he said to reporters after the White House released a long-form copy of his birth certificate. Potential Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump stirred up the controversy in recent weeks by demanding Obama prove he was born in Hawaii, not Kenya.

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